"The Professor" Mike Tenay Interview
1. How did you get into doing color commentary?
As a young kid growing up in Southern California, I published a wrestling newsletter (predecessor of Observer, etc.) from 1966-73. I also wrote articles for the national wrestling magazines and the programs that were sold at the live events at Los Angeles' Olympic Auditorium in that same time frame. I hosted the nationally syndicated Wrestling Insiders radio program from 1991-97. I joined the WCW Hotline in 1992 and, after debuting on the AAA Pay Per View When Worlds Collide in 1994, I was hired as a WCW announcer by Eric Bischoff in 1995. (By the way, your question refers to "color commentary". Don West is the TNA color commentator. I am the play-by-play announcer.)
2. Have you worked in any other sports?
I have commentated on other sports in terms of hosting talk radio programs. I have not done play-by-play announcing in other sports, although I'd love to.
3. What did you do before announcing?
From 1986-97 I was in Race and Sports book management at the Gold Coast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. Prior to that, I sold air conditioning equipment in Los Angeles, California for 12 years.
4. How many years have you been announcing?
13 years counting radio and TV.
5. What wrestling leagues have you worked for?
WCW and TNA.
6. Is there another announcer that you really feel like you work well with other than Don West?
I think that the key to working well with another announcer is chemistry. Don West and I have been great friends almost from the time we met in June, 2002, and I think it shows in our work. I also loved working with Bobby Heenan, in WCW, and Larry Zbyskzo, in WCW and TNA, and I remain good friends with both of them.
7. Is there any type of match that you really enjoy announcing on? Why?
I first gained my announcing reputation in WCW Cruiserweight and International matches and they were by far the most enjoyable bouts to announce. I loved the work of Mysterio, Malenko, Dragon, Juvy, Guerrero and Jericho. In TNA, the X Division matches are my favorites to call. Styles, Lynn, Low Ki, Kash, Red, Sabin, Shane and Kazarian are just great fun to announce. I think that I enjoy the combined challenge of "keeping up with the fast pace" and recognizing the moves "on the fly".
8. What do you of TNA’S X-Division?
See answer 7.
9. What do you think of TNA’S 6-sided ring?
The 6 sided ring is a great innovation for TNA. It's eye-catching (to attract new fans) and it makes for a better in-ring product also.
10. What is your advise for someone that wanted to do color commentary? Do they need to have a certain type of education or experience?
The people that succeed long-term in the professional wrestling business usually are very committed to their craft (this goes for wrestlers and announcers). I don't think you can overestimate an individual’s love for the business either. You better be prepared to work strange and long hours. And you better love to travel. With WCW, I flew over 1,000,000, miles with Delta Airlines alone. With TNA, I've made nearly 150 round-trips in the past two-plus years (every week from home in Las Vegas to both Nashville and Orlando). In terms of education, I had a journalism background and I can't strongly emphasize how important it was to my success in wrestling.